back to article FYI: There's a human-less, AI robot Mayflower ship sailing from the UK to US right now

A 15-metre-long autonomous human-free ship has begun a 3,000-odd-mile trip from the UK to the US to recreate the historic Mayflower voyage of 1620. The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS), named after the 17th century vessel that took more than 100 passengers from England to the present day's Massachusetts in America, set sail …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When it lands in the new world, if it offers to trade with us, don't take the bait, that doesn't end all that well.

    1. mark4155

      Off Air!

      Must try harder! 0/10

      1. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: Off Air!

        Well, it's solar powered. Including the propulsion apparently. And it's night in the Eastern North Atlantic. And www.ventusky.com indicates a large area of rain S of Iceland and W of Ireland in the general area they might be traversing. Even when the sun comes up, they may not be generating a lot of power. Perhaps they have fallen back to a power saving mode.

        1. Pseudononymous Coward
          Trollface

          Re: Off Air!

          You don't expect the telemetry to fail just because the sun has set.

          "Mayflower relies on solar power and batteries [and] a backup diesel generator"

          1. Spanners Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Off Air no more.

            Looks like it's working now. The weather there is pretty much the same as here.

            We seem to have had a busy WWII on this route.

      2. bitdivine

        Re: Off Air!

        Maybe there is an IBM Cloud over the solar panels.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      When it lands in the New World

      ICE will just turn it around and send it back like any other undesirable alien.

      The gotta remain friend with the GQP for when the next civil war begins (after the 2022 mid-terms) and Donald J Trump is sentenced to life in jail.

  2. nintendoeats Bronze badge

    Yes, when I see a boat travelling across the ocean, my first thought is "damn, I need to invest more in IBM technology to help my business identify new challenges on the horizon".

    I mean, I know the logic he is using in making that stretch, but the distance he has to reach for it it is almost as long as the journey being made by the boat.

    1. aks

      It's not you they're trying to sell the technology to but shipping companies and governments. Autonomous cargo ships without crew, scientific research vessels, unmanned water-borne drone armaments, etc.

      1. Pseudononymous Coward
        Trollface

        I'm just trying to understand the "scientific research vessels" argument.

        Research assistants and postgraduate students cost less than laboratory rats, so why would you want to waste good money on technology to replace them.

  3. redpawn Silver badge

    Eliminating jobs for people

    Soon the only jobs remaining for humans will be at nail salons. Time to give the ultra rich and large corporations another tax break in order to give them incentive to hire people.

    1. 42656e4d203239

      Re: Eliminating jobs for people

      >>Soon the only jobs remaining for humans will be at nail salons.

      Surely telephone sanitisers get a look in somewhere?

      1. Julz Silver badge

        Re: Eliminating jobs for people

        I actually used to work in an office which was visited once a month by a telephone sanitiser. He sprayed the microphone and earpiece with foam cleaner, wiped and then moved on to the next telephone to ensure they all were equally contaminated.

        Hell, I must be old...

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Eliminating jobs for people

      Have I got some news for you!

      Look up a company in San Francisco called Clockwork.

      There must be something even more menial that only humans can do.

    3. NicX

      Re: Eliminating jobs for people

      Or...you could wise up, realize that the world is becoming more and more dependent on technology, and get involved. You say the only jobs left will be at nail salons? Someone has to engineer and maintain these systems, right? Why not you?

      1. redpawn Silver badge

        Re: Eliminating jobs for people

        Not to worry my friend. AI is designing chips and AI will soon be able to direct robotic repairs. Give it 20 years. In the mean time you in the 1% of the population can be employed servicing the AI.

    4. bitdivine

      Re: Eliminating jobs for people

      Nah, this is a thousand times simpler in terms of object avoidance than similar terrestrial challenges, and while it has been trained to look out for specific dangers such as floating containers, I read no indication that it has the smarts to cope with anything unexpected. Like logs or killer whales. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-18877090

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It was launched from the seaside town Plymouth on Tuesday at 0400 UTC, and if all goes to plan, it’ll reach its American counterpart, the coastal city of Plymouth, MA, in a few weeks.

    Seaside town WTF, Plymouth is a city of 260,000, Plymouth MA is a Town

    1. Adair Silver badge

      Not if it continues its present heading (1430 on Friday) - currently been heading back the way it came for some time now (assuming the tracking is accurate).

      Perhaps a singularity has been achieved and the 'Mayflower' has decided "What the hell am I doing out here when I could be back partying dockside?"

      1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Bronze badge

        Partying dockside has been a no-no for over a year. Especially when there's nobody who could possibly be covid positive involved.

        https://www.theregister.com/2020/04/24/hms_trenchant_bbq_brouhaha/

        1. Adair Silver badge

          The news is that Mayflower has developed a fault and is returning to base.

          Well, that's what they are reporting.

          Actually they clearly have a party animal rogue AI on their hands.

    2. Def Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Be lucky you got called a town. Disney called Bergen (Norway's second largest city with a population over 285,000) a village.

  5. Roger Kynaston Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    It will be a bit rolly at first

    Sea area Sole

    North 5 or 6, becoming variable 3 or 4, then southwest 5 or 6 later.

    Sea state

    Moderate, occasionally rough.

    Weather

    Showers.

    Visibility

    Good.

    Then the high seas forecast

    North 5 or 6, becoming variable 3 or 4, then southwest 5 or 6 later.

    Sea state

    Moderate, occasionally rough.

    Weather

    Showers.

    Visibility

    Good.

    Thank you Met Office

    I suppose with no one to get seasick aboard but I wonder how it's (presumably) radar based anti collision stuff deal with sea and rain clutter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It will be a bit rolly at first

      it has various sensors on board not just radar

    2. Fr. Ted Crilly
      Happy

      Re: It will be a bit rolly at first

      Did anyone else read this in that steady calm modulated Radio 4 esq voice?

      No mention of Channel light vessel automatic, the highlight of the forecast.

  6. Jim Whitaker
    FAIL

    Units

    "4,535 kilograms, or five tons". Well I suppose you do have some among your audience who still use historic units but given your likely audience, is it really a priority?

    1. Vulch

      Re: Units

      Well the colonials still use short measure units they call tons where that conversion may work, but in proper historic British tons it translates as 4.5.

    2. steven_t

      Re: Units

      Given the likely audience, it should have been expressed as equivalent to 521 adult badgers or three skateboarding rhinoceri.

      See The Reg online standards converter:

      https://www.theregister.com/Design/page/reg-standards-converter.html

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Units

        Are you sure that the measure of skateboarding rhinoceri is correct? After all, just adding the average weight of a rhino to that of a skatebaord, isn't going to cut it. You're going to need to find the weight of a sufficiently strengthened and enlarged skateboard - which is likely to be significant. Thus it might only be 2.5skbr...

  7. Dave Pickles

    Pirate Fodder

    What are the chances of it disappearing without trace, or mysteriously losing all of it's expensive tech?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pirate Fodder

      that's the beauty of it it really isn't expensive tech, it's all of the shelf stuff the JETSON's don't cost much at all

    2. Timbo

      Re: Pirate Fodder

      "What are the chances of it disappearing without trace, or mysteriously losing all of it's expensive tech?"

      Why? Is it going through the Bermuda triangle?...or perhaps it will be targeted by Somali pirates somewhere near to the SE (ie Socotra Passage or the western side of the Indian Ocean?)

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: What are the chances of it disappearing without trace,

      I see a huge airship with the Amazon logo on the sides swooping down and sucking it up into the cavernous hold. Naturally, the airship will be super stealthy and will simply disappear from satellite and other surveillance.

      Next year Bezos's new mega-mega yacht will be launched and somehow all the cool tech that is on the robo ship.

      By then... he will be so powerful and rich that he'll just buy all the outstanding US Government debt from his small change. He'll then close down DC and proclaim himself President Bezos for life.

      Oh wait...

      I've just exposed the plot to a future NCIS episode.

      Only joking people.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What are the chances of it disappearing without trace,

        Could do worse ... oh wait, you did!

  8. codejunky Silver badge

    Cool

    Best of luck to the effort. AI shipping could make a big difference to global trade and the world economy. Also may improve disaster relief efforts

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Also may improve disaster relief efforts

      and will, under no circumstances, be used for military purposes. Purely for the good of human kind (never mind other sods ;)

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Also may improve disaster relief efforts

        @AC

        I expect it would be used for military purposes. At a minimum to deliver the troops and supplies with reduced effort into the transport (comparatively large crew, crew provisions + sleeping spaces, etc). I expect eventually probably automated gun boats. Since some of the AA gear is already auto-targeting it could be wise to have automated cheap screen boats with defensive capabilities.

  9. Julz Silver badge

    The

    Latest telemetry has it heading kinda NE. Odd direction to get to the colonies but perhaps it's thought better of it and decided to head somewhere else.

    1. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      Re: The

      This is a sail boat, not a motor boat. The winds at this latitude blow west-to-east. To sail against the wind, you have to sail in a zig-zag motion, not in a straight line.

      1. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: The

        "This is a sail boat, ..."

        That's what you'd expect. But I can't see any sign of (a) mast(s)/sail(s) in the pictures of the thing or in the drawings on the website. And it does have a rather conspicuous propeller. So I think it's probably a solar powered electric boat rather than a sailboat.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The

        it isn't a sail boat

    2. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Bronze badge

      Re: The

      Came here to post similar - the heading has been showing as 063 for most of the morning. Either the dashboard is showing the reciprocal heading or she's reversing across the pond.

      (update - checked again before posting 12:47BST)

      She had been heading ENE for most of the morning, currently turning round.

      (Edit) Just after I posted, she was turning again - 34 degrees of rudder. Now heading back E.

      @Wade Burchette - if she was tacking then we'd see NW and SW zig zags, not NE.

  10. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Hmmm. MAYFLOWER?

    Surely MAS isn't trying very hard.

    Marine

    Autonomous

    Yacht

    Floating

    Leftwards

    Over

    Water

    Enabling

    Research

    How's that?

  11. Tom 38 Silver badge
    Joke

    They set off from Plymouth and they landed in Plymouth

    How lucky is that?

  12. macjules Silver badge

    identify cargo ships, fishing vessels, and floating shipping containers.

    What about icebergs? The occasional surfaced whale?

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: The occasional surfaced whale?

      Orcas seem to enjoy playing with small boats... small boats, not so much!

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: The occasional surfaced whale?

        "From the Strait of Gibraltar to Galicia, orcas have been harassing yachts, damaging vessels and injuring crew"

        https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/13/killer-whales-launch-orchestrated-attacks-on-sailing-boats

        'Killer whales attacked my yacht for 45 minutes'

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-54292317

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: identify cargo ships, fishing vessels, and floating shipping containers.

      "What about icebergs? The occasional surfaced whale?"

      Or anything at all in 40' swells :-)

  13. WhereAmI?

    Icebergs - maybe not so much as it can see those. A whale trying to scratch its back could be a problem.

  14. A Known Coward

    Well let's just be glad that at least this one isn't carrying religious extremists seeking to start their own authoritarian state unlike the original Mayflower.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: own authoritarian state

      The USA is actually getting much closer to that with each passing day.

      With, all the anti-black voter repression laws, banning of teaching of Slavery in schools, talk of a 'new south' run by Q-Anon and everything else all hints at the sort of new Republic that many in the GQP want. Then they'll be able to achieve what the pilgrim's wanted.

      Oh, and Texas has started building that wall again to keep the brown-skinned hordes out. No sign of Mexico paying for it though.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021